Late post: Gupta India: Rock Cut Architecture and Art of Substraction

Indians carved into stone cliffs and sometimes they carved out of piled rocks, and we call this an art of subtraction. Subtraction is a design method still used today in modern structures. It allows to support the structural system by displacing some of materials. I think this architectural method is a complex one because just imagen how hard it would be to replace a material you have already substracted? Structure of rock-cut temples relied on nature. Principal temples and monasteries were placed away from the major cities. Just a few of the halls and monasteries were built in permanent materials. However the ones which were carved into the stones were more last longing then the ones which were built permananlty.

Hills formed from horizontal shelves of stone and served as a site for many rock-cut works. The caves of Bhaja, were the earliest Indian rock-cut temples and were the first examples. They used wooden architecture tradition in their stone halls. They finished with reeds and mud because they looked like wooden. There were horse shoe shaped arches at the entrance.s There were octagonal columns which was aligned with U-shaped naves. The wooden vestibule door and clerestory window indicated the longitudinal cavern. At the end of the chaitya hall, there is a stupa on a cylindrical pedestal. The ritual functions of Indian halls had similarites  with pilgrims. There was a great circulation created by using the help of collonades. Enterence was from the left side and there was a clockwise circulation.

Post Gupta Dravidian

The Gupta dynesty was losing its power because of the Huns. It was breaking down into political groups and the Huns were actively discouraging Buddism and they were absorbing the Buddist style. In the times were Chalukya had a power, they built several temples using a wide range of style in their capital city, Alhole. The designer of the Durga temple raised a pyramidal shikhara tower, using thin, horizontal layers decorated with architectural reliefs. Pallava dynasty has built 17 temples in Mahabalipuram by illustrating the transition from monolithic works carved out of a single boulders found in situ to masonry structures built of joined stones. The temple included many rock-cut caves. The Pandava ratha at Mahabalipuram lacked wheels but included five monalithic buildings and a few out-scaled animals such as one elephants. The Indian version was called parkara and the whole was surrounded with a rectangular walled precinct. There was a linearity for the four temples and the temples were depicting the stone simulucra of conventianal buildings. The first temple in that group, offered a cube articulated with pilaster and capped by a swollen pitched roof. It took the form of two story palace carved from a single block of stone but looking as if was built of wooden joinery. Its barrel-vault roof carried horseshoe arch dormers and tiny balconies. The last of the ratha, a pyramid, represented the mythical Mouth Meru. Three rows of aedicules descended beneath its octogonal cupola with typical shala vaulted roofs and horseshoe gables.

Tang dynasty was one of the kingdoms of the Chiness empire. Silk Road gained importance right after Turks started to create a more peaceful enviroment.  Tang dynasty’s emperors rebuilt the gridded capital of Chang’an. The rebuilt city was the biggest city in the world. They encouraged Buddhism. Korea and Japan were influenced from the Chinese urbanism and they built there cities by taking reference from Chiness architecture. Because of the Silk Road Islam also had a big influence on the Chiness architecture and we can clearly see the affects of it on Chang’an!s Great Mosque which has touches from both cultures. The Sui dynasty with very talented architect Yuwen Kai, reproduced the plan of Chang’an. He conceived the Great Canal and designed the superb segmental arch bridge of Zhaozhou. In this area architects follew a long-standing grid tradition of the wangcheng diagram with three axial streets intersected by three axial streets and a palace placed in the middle. The city was the biggest one built through out the history of China.

The Patronage of Empress Wu

Empress Wu was the only women who ruled the China with a great masculanity and she was  the first woman to establish her own dynasty. This actually reminded me of the Hatshesut. Wu’s first attempt of patronage involved building  was the Daminggong Palace in Chang’an. The palace was duplicated with a great reception hall overlooking to a vast court that had two seperate audience halls to either side of a U-shaped configuration. Like the Hatshepsut ruler, she also built several Buddhist temples to spread her power.


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